Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Protection of Minors Against Excesses of Sects

From www.wikipeebia.com; http://wikipeebia.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=477

I have personally witnessed the effects of the Hales exclusive brethren's nefarious activities against my own family and feel compelled to expose the wickedness of this dreadful fundamentalist cult.

In it's rebranded form the Plymouth brethren Christian church as a result of the recent Charity Commission decision; http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/media/591398/preston_down_trust_full_decision.pdf ought to conduct an independent audit of detriment and harm both to current members and ex-members of its community.

Reparation for damages to families is needed to redress the awful psychological harm caused by the actions of this Church, this MUST be followed closely by a CHANGE of doctrine and a repudiation of the ministry and actions of James Taylor Junior.

Many of us have expressed concern about the effects of extremist religious sects on children. Having been children ourselves brought up in the Exclusive Brethren, we know at first hand what we are talking about. Now the European Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has decided that a lot more needs to be done about it.

Earlier this month the Committee published a 15-page report, which you can download from
http://www.assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef ... =1&lang=EN

Here are some quotations from it.

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights is of the opinion that more measures must be taken at national and European level to counter the excesses of sects which affect minors.
. . .
It condemns in particular the “excesses of sects”, namely acts and techniques which seek to place individuals in a state of psychological or physical submission, and stresses that these excesses can lead to violations of the fundamental rights of minors in terms of their right to life, their physical integrity, their family and social links and their education.
. . .
B. Draft recommendation

1. The Parliamentary Assembly, referring to its Resolution … (2014) on the protection of minors against excesses of sects, recommends that the Committee of Ministers: 
1.1. conduct a study of the scale of the phenomenon of sects affecting minors at European level, on the basis of information provided by the member States; 
1.2. set up a working group to exchange information between member States on excesses of sects affecting minors and to develop good practices for preventing the problem; 
1.3. seek to improve co-operation at European level with a view to implementing joint activities to prevent excesses of sects and protect minors against them. 

It should also be noted that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), adopted in New York on 20 November 1989 and ratified by all the Council of Europe’s member States, is the founding text regarding child protection in international law. The obligations arising under the UNCRC are fairly general and require implementing measures (legislative, administrative and others) at national level. While the UNCRC does not directly deal with the question of excesses of sects affecting children, it does consider a number of relevant issues in this context: the child’s personal relations (Article 9.3), access to justice (Article 12.2), the right to express views freely (Articles 12 and 13), freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 14), health (Article 24.1), education (Articles 28 and 29), and protection against sexual exploitation and violence and all other forms of exploitation (Articles 24, 32 and 36). The Convention’s preamble points out inter alia that “the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding”: this principle is particularly important to reiterate in view of the total commitment demanded by certain religious movements, which can lead to the breaking off of links with families, or the complexity of situations involving a separation of the parents because one of them is a follower of such a movement. 
. . .
The rapporteur pointed out inter alia that “while a religion implies free, informed consent on the part of those who join it, people joining certain sects may be free when they join it, but are not informed, and, once they are informed, they are usually no longer free”; it is here that the issue of fundamental freedoms and human rights arises. 
. . .
the “About-Picard law . . . allows the disbanding of corporate entities engaged in activities aimed at psychological or physical subjugation. 
. . .
In this book, [“Sect Child – Chosen for Paradise” by Charlotte Essén] based on several interviews with young people who managed to leave various “sects”, she studied the situation of young people brought up in these movements, in particular Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Knutby Pentecostal Church, the Hare Krishna community, the Finland Intercessors movement and “The Family”. She concluded that all these groups have one thing in common: they are minority, elitist organisations, are based on the personality of a charismatic leader and a very rigid hierarchy and seek the “truth” and “purity”, while controlling all contact with the outside world (among other things, by giving precedence to home schooling and private schools) and adopting a very strict approach to sexuality; money plays a vital part in these movements. 
. . .
Given the vulnerability of children and teenagers, it is vital that we remain vigilant and clamp down on any practices subjugating them in the name of religious beliefs. The Council of Europe – and the Assembly in particular – have an important role in combating this deeply worrying phenomenon. 
. . .
Extensive awareness-raising measures for welfare services, judges (in family law cases, especially when parents separate), civil servants, the police and ombudsmen’s offices are vital with a view to detecting threats to the welfare of minors and helping them to leave sect-like movements. Especially in the case of schooling, including home schooling and private schools which may be under the sway of these movements, prompt and effective State oversight is required, 
. . .
The problem of excesses of sects affecting minors remains very worrying in Europe and steps must be taken to counter it. When the best interests of the child are at stake, a proper balance has to be struck between the child’s fundamental rights and freedom of religion and, where necessary, the best interests of the child must take precedence, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


  1. I worry that in their private schools PBCC children and young people are kept separate from non-Brethren schoolchildren. It also concerns me that they aren't encouraged to go away to university to study if they have the talent and an enthusiasm for learning. It's so wrong that a group that calls itself a mainstream church and receives funding as a charitable organisation should deprive their children and young people of these important experiences.

  2. Many of us have also witnessed the 'coaching' of PBCC children in 'hating' a parent who has left the religion. We have seen quite young children taken away from their own parents and made to live with 'foster parents' whilst their guardians are undergoing church discipline which sometimes lasted years.

    My own Granny was forced by the PBCC to make a choice between seeing her grandchildren and continuing to live with her 'never been PBCC' husband. I lost touch with my Granny at 5 years old and am still resentful now.

    Many PBCC children grow up witnessing their parents consuming alcohol to excess. When we were 'in', it was common place for young teenagers to be offered beer and vermouth, having been purchased especially for them. Children have often been transported to church meetings in vehicles driven by PBCC members way over the drink/drive limits of this country.

    I have been in meetings when sordid details of a sexual nature have been openly discussed with minors present.

    These are children who have never even had a Christmas present let alone a family holiday by the hotel swimming pool, things that a youngster would normally enjoy.

    1. “Many of us have also witnessed the 'coaching' of PBCC children in 'hating' a parent who has left the religion.”

      It was something like this that a Family Court Judge described as emotional abuse at the more severe end of the scale. I don’t think the word ‘hating’ was used in that case: it was more like telling a child that his father was evil or under the control of the Devil. This is one of the religious practices that is becoming recognised in several countries as criminal.

    2. I think in some cases the child will be told by in members

      But what where there is an unspoken culture, that a parent or sibling is no longer at home and no longer attends their meetings, therefore the 'out' is wrong and thus evil, and to be avoided, especially where the reason is not a scriptural fault


  3. The use of the word “sect” in the report might cause alarm among English-speaking members of harmless minority denominations, who may think all sects are being targeted, but it is clear from the contents of the report that the sects at risk of legislative, judicial and administrative censure are only those with cultish characteristics.

    For example, they make it difficult for members to leave; they keep members in a state of psychological submission; they practise separation from non-members, especially escapees; they restrict education; they suppress freedom of speech and freedom of thought; they demand total obedience; they control their members’ access to information; they foster a culture of secrecy; they often restrict family and social links; they segregate their children in separate schools; they deny children and other members their internationally recognised human rights; and money is very important to them.

    In the UK these organisations would often be called high-demand organisations or cults, but in continental Europe the word “sect” often conveys the same meaning as “cult” does in the UK. The French word secte, for instance, carries more sinister connotations than the English word sect.

    A casual reader of the latest report can hardly fail to notice that the practices complained about in these sects are broadly similar to the practices that the Charity Commission complained about in their negotiations with the Hales Brethren, as listed in their written decision on the Preston Down case delivered on 3 January 2014.

    Even without the latest report, there are already numerous legislative and administrative moves under way that are aimed at mitigating or restricting some of the unacceptable practices associated with various religions, and several of these moves are likely to be troublesome to the Hales Brethren. The 2006 Charities Act was only the first of several challenges that they will have to face, and it remains to be seen whether they will survive that challenge.

  4. As an ex peeb,I wish this law was introduced back in 1959 as it would of prevented abuse at schools by our parents following a very corrupt number of leaders. I only found out recently the senior school I went to, had written to my parents about me not following the curriculum in not reading Animal farm. What harm, would that of done to me back in 1963 ? Where I do worry about kids now in going to schools with their own PBCC teachers, who? would listen to the kids now saying they are being abused or that by not allowing eduction of the kids to find out about what abuse is ( mental and physical )as it carries on behind closed doors.

    1. Animal Farm is too much like an allegory of Exclusive Brethrenism. It might have made you start to understand deceit, control and exploitation. However, it is justly famous as one of George Orwell’s best novels.

  5. John,
    My worry is around the vulnerability of a young adult choosing to cut off ties with the PBCC. In my own experience I left at the age of 17 and was easily influenced by others, luckily I didn't get into trouble with the law , but did get into some scrapes with others and ended up with mental health illnesses. I think the PBCC should take responsibility for those wishing to leave and cover the cost of putting them through a rehab programme or something similar.

    1. “A rehab programme or something similar.” That sounds like a good idea, if such a programme existed. The International Cultic Studies Association occasionally runs 1-day workshops for cult escapees, but I think a lot of cult escapees need a lot more than 1-day workshops, because they have so much to learn. After having so many decisions imposed upon them, they often don’t know how to make important decisions for themselves.

      Many don’t know how to look for accommodation, get a mortgage, make new friends, advance their education, apply for a job, find a boyfriend or girlfriend or choose a school for their children. Many of them don’t know simple things like how to behave in company and what counts as good manners. It takes years for some of them to realise that divergent opinions are entirely normal, and don’t need to cause irritation. It comes as a rude shock to discover that sexist and racist language, behaviour and attitudes and many other character traits that are common among the Brethren are regarded as offensive and unacceptable elsewhere.

      In the absence of a rehab programme or something similar, probably the best that can be done is to put new escapees in touch with old escapees, who will understand their peculiarities and guide them sympathetically.

      In addition, some escapees are so traumatised by being denounced, ostracised and abandoned, or in some cases by physical, sexual or emotional abuse, that they find it very difficult to ask anyone for help, or even to talk about their problems. These need more than a rehab programme: these need professional help from a trained counsellor or a clinical psychologist.

    2. "the best that can be done is to put new escapees in touch with old escapees, who will understand their peculiarities and guide them sympathetically. "

      I know of a number of these situations where escapees do not find understanding. But find they still come up against similar forms of abuse.

      An analogy could be that its a bit like someone expecting that mental heath patients.Could likely be able to carefully take charge of caring for more mental health patients that continue to arrive on campus. The therapy they may receive, will amount to being a matter of hit and miss. Which more than enough suicides already attest

      In many cases it can be the worst thing that can occur. Even worse, it certainly doesn't do much to help to create more confidence within cults ,for these members to think about leaving.

    3. I now have in my possession written correspondence from a number of people that have found old escapees to be quite inadequate as carers.Periodically some of these people even discuss the idea of returning to the cult.

      A better analogy might have been to compare this situation, to situation what happens in some place like Afghanistan. Where nobody in their right mind would think that it would have been adequate to leave it up to the survivors to take care of the aftermath.

      We escapee's do what we can to try and be helpful. But often we are also still trying to recover ourselves.

      Its about time that society woke up to the full extent of this situation.We didn't ask for these cults to be allowed to exist. When will those that demand to have freedom of religion,be prepared to step up and also start taking more responsibility for the outcome

    4. Those that demand freedom of religion are not likely to help much with the problems of harmful religions. They might be good at pastoral care for the victims, but they are not much good at dealing with the source of the problem.

      Help will more probably come from legislators, police forces, social services, prosecutors, the judiciary, the Civil Service, news media and academics. That process is already under way, and it is making itself felt.

      Abusive religions have been so selfish and so aggressive that they have blown their goodwill, exposed their moral depravity, and lost their credibility. The net is closing in on them, and it is closing in from several directions.

    5. 'A better analogy might have been to compare this situation, to situation what happens in some place like Afghanistan. Where nobody in their right mind would think that it would have been adequate to leave it up to the survivors to take care of the aftermath.'

      Forgive me, but when the troops pull out of Afghanistan, who do you think will be dealing with the aftermath? Dead Afghans? A very poor analogy for your argument IMHO.

    6. Ian i agree with what you say .

      Anonymous3 April 2014 06:07 . Afghanistan people whom will deal with the aftermath, when the troops have finally left. Have already been put through years of extensive training, by professionals.And yet they still struggle.

      You are welcome to your opinion. But yet your opinion doesn't do anything much to help explain why it is, that we don't see many more people trying to leave these cults.

    7. Human nature is itself averse to change. We settle down, nice house, good job, several children and don't wish to upset the equilibrium by change. In a religion like PBCC this is even more the case.

      A conscience and a sense of moral responsibility would both help people within the PBCC to leave. It is the evil Exclusive Brethren 'we do the thinking, you do the doing' mantra which is designed to rob people of the afore mentioned qualities that does the damage.

      I got fed up with 'the Lord will make the issue' as an excuse for not taking issue with evil because it involved the hierarchy. The rank and file were dealt with immediately, if not sooner!

      It was being present when two priests in my home meeting gave false witness to 400 odd Exclusive Brethren to cover their own backs that decided it for me.

      I lost at least half my business, but worked through the night in a part time job to make up the shortfall, all our relatives are EB, but what use are people who reject you for having epilepsy anyway? We have many friends to whom it makes no difference at all.

      My wife, family and I left voluntarily and have never regretted that decision once. I have found a real joy in my heart through knowing Christ as my Saviour in a personal way.

      We used to be told 'follow me and I will get you into Heaven'. That sadly, is one the devil's greatest lies.

  6. "quo semel est imbuta recens servabit odorem testa diu"

    This phrase from the Roman poet, Horace, seems relevant to our discussion.

    Perhaps I'm the only reader of this thread who's been able to send this quotation to a current member of the PBCC (who knows Latin!), in the hope that she will realise that both she and the kindness and hospitality she showed me fifty-seven years ago will never be forgotten.

    But, of course, it works the other way too, and childhood and youthful experiences of abuse and unjust behaviour leave their marks in ongoing adult experiences of trauma and distress. The kind of help which Ian indicates is available, but if the PBCC could only bring itself to acknowledge the detriment and harm which their system has meted out to so many people for half a century it could be the start of a healing process for everyone.

    There never was a better time to do this. The Charity Commission has written its expectations of the PBCC in a public document and the Brethren will be applauded by many if they begin to deal with all people fairly, openly, honestly and compassionately again.

  7. For now, the most feed back, by far, i'm seeing online. Is from the religious interests that seem to oppose the move.

    Cant help feeling sorry for the other people, whom would like to do something more to help us.

  8. There are old escapees that are able to help recent escapees with compassion and understanding. It is happening currently.

    1. Anonymous2 April 2014 13:16
      "There are old escapees that are able to help recent escapees with compassion and understanding. It is happening currently."

      Yes it is happening .Nobody had claimed it wasn't happening. But what is also happening sometimes,is that some people are experiencing forms of abuse, from old escapees they come in contact with.

      Of course there are old escapees who won't want to even entertain the thought, that this might be happening. These folk seem to remain much like Exclusive Brethren members. Who also don't care to even entertain the idea that some of their own ,may be involved in forms of abuse

      I could choose to simply post the information i have . But feel i also need to decide whether the shame that it may cause to some.Outweigh's the good it might do.

      My hope is that people might start to wake up. Before i feel forced into needing to publicly expose the situation

  9. Professional care for those who escape from harmful religions is sometimes called Exit Counselling. In the forthcoming meeting of ICSA in Washington on 3-5 July 2014, Daniel Picotin and Marie-Helen Hessel will be describing how it is done in an organised way in France, and there will be several other papers on the same subject, on how best to cope with the emotional and psychological trauma that is often suffered by cult victims.

    The titles include phrases like
    Recognition and Repair After Leaving a Destructive Cult
    Celebrating Independence and Becoming the Assertive Survivor
    Cognitive Processing Therapy
    Ministering to Those Traumatized in Bible-Based Cults
    Former-Member Debriefing
    Mental Health: Recovery Issues for Second-Generation Adults
    Mental Health: Mentalization/Attachment Approach to Cult Recovery
    Reclaiming Life Stories After Cult Immersion
    Research Into What Helps Former Cult Members Recover From an Abusive Cult Experience
    Spiritual Recovery After a Cult Experience
    The Therapeutic Relationship When Working With Former Cult Members
    The unique characteristics of Post Cult PTSD and suggested therapeutic approaches

    There are also many papers on exploring why cults exist, how they work, and what various Governments and other agencies are doing to mitigate their harm and protect their members, and on how existing laws can be used and what new laws are being proposed.

    You can read the abstracts of these papers at http://www.icsahome.com/events/conferenceannual/abstracts, and you can read about how to register to attend the conference at http://www.icsahome.com/events/conferenceannual

  10. http://www.worldreligionnews.com/issues/human-rights-action-petition-letter-circulating-protect-freedom-religion-europe